With the seasons changing and the clocks going back, it really does feel as though Autumn is here. Have you noticed any change in your horse or pony’s droppings?
Your horse’s droppings can give you a surprising insight into the behaviour of their hindgut! Do you monitor their droppings for changes? So – we we would like to help you in spotting early signs of just some of these issues.
Things to check:
Regularity: know how many droppings your horse does a day and how big they are, the total volume passed per day, relative to their diet.
Consistency: Loose droppings may indicate anything from a change in diet the hindgut cannot cope with, sugar levels in hay, haylage and grass all varying massively.
There could be something that really does need Veterinary support, including parasite burden, sand accumulation, so sudden severe loose droppings, or changes that last for more than a few days with no reason really should be seen by a vet.
Excess water being passed with the droppings can be a sign of acidity or infection in the hindgut, in addition to the causes above.
Fibre length: You should be unable to see too much ‘long fibre’. if you can see more than just a few pieces of fibre (undigested hay, grass or other woody matter) longer than 5mm, it is a sign that teeth may not be grinding properly. You may also notice looser droppings than usual and sometimes loss of condition. This can creep up, with condition slowly falling away as we head into winter and proving very hard to build back up.
These horses need to be seen by your vet or Equine dentist, and may need supplementary feeding, either with hay replacers, pre-ground fibre or a suitable chop.
Smell: We may become immune to the smell but it’s important to monitor it! To us it shouldn’t smell unpleasant. If it does smell strong, too ‘fruity’ or offensive it could be an early indication of a problem.
Don’t panic! Changes in diet, even after a short rain shower, prompting grass growth, can change the colour and consistency of their droppings. The free living horse in its wild state would not have had any sudden changes, living through a steady decline in grass and then gradual spring growth. Loose droppings can be short lasting, or more chronic. Any severe diarrhoea or excessively really do need checking by your vet. Healthy droppings should be of a similar colour, more brown if stabled on hay, and more green if grazing. They should be consistent, regular and passed in a controlled manner.
The team at Keyflow are used to looking at your poo pictures! Please do feel free to send any photos across together with the usual information on your horse so that we can help with any issues relating to diet and management regime. You MUST always consult your vet for any urgent or ongoing issues, but we are here to work with them in supporting your horse in the very best way we can.